In this season of caring and giving, Weekender readers share their memories and stories behind their favourite Christmas dishes
“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate,” said author Alan D Wolfelt.
This is especially true during festive seasons when a scrumptious spread can bring to life heartfelt conversations and a sense of kinship.
We speak to some of our readers and find out what their favourite Christmas dishes are, and their heart-warming memories of them.
Tabitha Anastasia Poh, 26 — Bundt cake
The Bundt cake baked by Tabitha’s sister-in-law was a showstopper.
“My favourite Christmas dish is my sister-in-law’s chocolate Bundt cake, which is decadent and festive.
Christmas has always been a big deal to my family while [I was] growing up, and it still is. It’s the time of the year when we gather for a big feast and merrymaking.
My sister-in-law baked the chocolate Bundt cake on our family’s first Christmas as a whole family (everyone was done studying and everyone was present) and it was a complete showstopper. In that moment, I felt that wholesome feeling of kinship.
Every Christmas since, we’ve all been very enthusiastic about bringing food to the table and discussing what will be served, as a family.”
Christopher Brown, 48 — Shortbread
Christopher learnt to make his grandmother’s shortbread when he was just a child.
“Shortbread is a traditional part of a Scottish Christmas and has always been one of my favourites. My grandparents were Scots and we were brought up with a lot of romantic stories.
At Christmas, we would visit great aunts and uncles, and shortbread would always be on the table. In our family tradition, the biscuits were shaped like cookies rather than the more common finger and wedge shapes.
As a child, I learnt to make shortbread. My grandmother’s recipe was very simple and I knew it by heart: six parts butter, three parts sugar, six parts plain flour, three parts corn flour.
Kneading the flour was like playing with Play-Doh, with the bonus that I could eat the leftovers.
I still have my grandmother’s handwritten recipe, which I treasure as a link to my heritage.”
Lydia Vyona Lam, 25 — Lamb with Mint Sauce
To Lydia, Christmas is when she goes to church and then enjoys her mother’s lamb with mint sauce.
“My favourite Christmas dish is lamb with mint sauce, which my family enjoys once a year on Christmas Day. It is a special treat associated with being with our loved ones on the most festive occasion of the year.
One particular year, because I was worried about meeting client deadlines, I was somewhat frazzled as I came home.
But when I got out of the lift and heard laughter from inside the house and saw the living room bathed in the yellow lights that my dad turns on only for guests, I felt like I was coming home not just to a house but to the people I love.
It was way past dinnertime but my mother had kept a portion of the dish for me. To me, Christmas is not Christmas until I go to church and then have Mom’s lamb.”
James Yip, 67 — Waterloo Street Mee Goreng
The Waterloo Street mee goreng recipe is authentic, using gragok (dried shrimp paste) and Chinese chives.
“The Waterloo Street mee goreng is adapted from a recipe passed down from my late father who loved cooking. He got hold of the recipe from a mee goreng stall owner many years ago.
It was a very authentic rendition of the dish, which uses gragok (dried shrimp paste) and Chinese chives.
Every Christmas, we would enjoy this heritage dish alongside other culinary creations so as to remind my children of our father’s legacy.
In their younger days, my children, together with their cousins, would put up mini concerts in light of the festive celebrations and everyone would look forward to it. Even though my children are all grown up and we no longer have these yearly performances, we treasure gathering at my place every Christmas Eve before attending midnight mass together.”
Veronica Zuzarte-Robertson, 53 — Curry Feng
Veronica and her mom share a loving moment over curry feng.
“My favourite festive dish is curry feng, a non-spicy and vinegary curry pork dish made with several parts of the pig. Each year, my whole family gathers at my parents’ home to participate in the making of this traditional Eurasian dish.
Everyone is designated a part to dice up and there is always a grabbing match to see who gets the easiest meat to cut — the pork belly and intestines — because they’re softer and easier to handle. My mother oversees the whole process with a sharp comment here and there whenever the cubes start getting too big.
The family bonding is irreplaceable and Christmas would not be Christmas without the ‘great curry feng dice-up’. Today, our three generations still prepare this dish together.”
By Samantha Francis